11 DAYS GURU’S PILGRIMAGE
DAY 1: PARO ARRIVAL (-/L/D)
On arrival at Paro international airport you will be received by a representative of Bhutan Raewa Travels who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal of the Airport holding a placard with your name on it. The representative will be your guide for the duration of the tour and will welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).
After that drive towards Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.
On arrival check into hotel.
After freshening up you will be taken for a short sightseeing tour around Thimphu town. During this tour you will visit:
- Bhutan Post: Located at the heart of Thimphu city is renowned for the world famous 3D and other stamps and cards. Bhutan Post offers wide and extensive varieties of exotic stamps made out of metal, silk and three dimensional images apart from stamps with mini photograph records. Most notable universal events are imprinted as stamps.
- National Library: The library has wide collections of ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan scripts. Apart from the silk cloth printing and wrappings kept on second floor, the library has a traditional wood blocks used for printing books and prayer flags. The library was built in 1967.
- National Folk Heritage Museum – gives an insight of typical, bountiful and exceptional way of Bhutanese culture.
- Traditional Medicine Center: Bhutan is blessed with green and rich medicinal plants. The herbal medicines, in its original form, is locally produced and dispensed to the people.
- Changlimithang – a stone throw distance from the town is a historic ground where Bhutanese retained its sovereignty in 1985, now rests as a multipurpose stadium that hosts various national and cultural activities.
- Tashichhodzong: A depiction of our ancient culture. Originated way back in the 13th century as administrative building with His Majesty’s Golden Throne Room till date. The building was built without nails and still remains intact and still stands today.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu
DAY 2: THIMPHU DAY EXCRUSI0N (B/L/D)
The Morning Prayer at Changangkha Lhakhang (Monastery), after breakfast, for Barchelamse (Prayer to keep away bad luck and misfortune) in our traditional dress. After the salted tea (suja) and sweet rice (dresse), the guest would then be escorted to our M.D.’s apartment to receive the teachings from Lama Baza Guru for an hour. Later you will be escorted around the chhoesum (Alter), garden, green house, apple orchard and the paintings on the rock.
Religious & Historic Sightseeing:
- Memorial Chhorten: Built in the loving memory of our beloved third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1974 after his demise in 1972. The chhorten is one the tallest structure in the town and a centre of worship for religious people.
After lunch head towards Pangri Zampa Lhakhang now used as a school for Buddhist Astrology. It was built during the first quarter of the 16th century and is the first residence of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who unified Bhutan during the 17th century.
Drive to Begana, the Guru’s Lhakhang, where you can throw a pair of dices (sho zho ni) and the monk will tell you fortune and misfortune that would come.
Drive back to Thimphu and visit Buddha point popularly known as Kuensel Phodrang A popular Buddhist site located on a hilltop with Buddha Dordenma (51.5 meter Height) statue consecrated. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy from 8th century A.D and is said to emanate an aura of peace, tranquility and happiness.
Evening free time to relax.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu.
DAY 3: THIMPHU – TSHELUNA NYE (B/L/D)
The visit to Tsheluna Nye, after breakfast, embodies the sacred place where the .Second Buddha Guru Rinpoche visited which dates back to the 800 century A.D amongst other places in Bhutan.
We can see the treasured imprint of Guru Rinpoche and other enlightened lams like Lam Drukpa Kinley in the cave. The Buddhists believe that the water of stream near the cliff, extracted by Lam Drukpa Kinley, would purify all our sins.
The other imprints are:-
– Phurpa – ritual dragger
– Emanation of Buddha of compassion
– Drelbu- the ritual bell rock painting
– Khandu Yeshey Tshogyel’s hair, tooth relics of Buddhisatava and
– Seat of Guru (Zhukthrel).
The second visit to the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal- Takin – a rare and bovid mammal that only lives in Bhutan and then drive up to BBS tower to get an Ariel view of Thimphu valley and fly prayer flags to flutter the prayer of peace and serenity. You can fly prayer flags to enhance your luck and well – being since prayers are carried by the Wind in all the four directions.
Overnight at hotel – Thimphu
DAY 4: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
The travel through the spiraling mountain road, after breakfast, towards Punakha valley (the old capital of the country) via the Dochula Mountain pass (3,140 m) becomes more interesting on a clear day with a stunning view of the snow capped Himalayan ranges viewed with the powerful binocular on the following mountains:
- Kang Bum (6,526 m)
- Gangchhenta (6,840 m)
- Masang Gang (7,165 m)
- Tsenda Gang (7,100 m)
- Teri Gang (7,300 m)
- Jejekangphu Gang (7,100 m)
- Zongophu Gang (Table Mt) (7,100 m)
- Gangkhar Puensum (7,541 m)
- Druk Wangyel Chhorten – Built by the present Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens (108 nos.) is a new landmark for travellers as you cross Dochula, the first mountain pass on the interior of the country.
- Punakha Dzong: One of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. For many years, it served as the seat of administrative building of the Government. At present, it is the winter residence of the monastic bodies. One can see 108 volumes of Kanjur – the holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold inside the dzong. The Dzong also safe guards Bhutan’s most treasured possession known as the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha.
DAY 5: PUNAKHA – BUMTHANG (B/L/D)
Bumthang : A drive through dense forest amongst chirping of birds and the sounds of wild animals via Pelela pass (3140 m) takes you through the scenic Trongsa villages and the three most beautiful and amazing districts (dzongkhags) of Central Bhutan.
- Chendebji Chhorten: The large chhorten (stone Buddhist monument often containing relics) sits quietly by the side of the road, a few miles from the small village of Chendebji and untouched by the modern towns. The chorten, built by a Tibetan lama in the 19th century, evades all the evil spirits of a man believed to be killed on the spot, and is the replica of Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu.
- Trongsa Dzong: Built in 1648, is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. Both the second and third King ruled the country from this ancient seat. Due to its highly strategic position, the only connecting route between east and west of the country, the Trongsa Penlop controlled the entire eastern region effectively.
- Ta Dzong: Situated strategically above the Trongsa Dzong served as the watch tower to evade attacks from the enemy for many centuries and was built by Choeje Minjur Tempa in 1652 and a state of the art museum dedicated to the Monarchs of Bhutan. The museum focuses on the history of the monarchy with eleven galleries styled along the National Museum in Paro and one gallery fully dedicated to the history of the Kings of the Wangchuck dynasty. The museum includes a media room where visitors can watch a documentary program on the history of the monarchy.
Overnight at hotel – Bumthang.
DAY 6: BUMTHANG DAY EXCRUSION (B/L/D)
- Jambay Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gembo, believed to be the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, and is a pilgrimage tour spot today. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue the evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
- Chakhar Lhakhang – Iron Castle temple easily mistaken for a house is an interesting temple and worth a short visit. It is the Palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja who first invited the Second Buddha Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The original Palace was made of Iron hence the name Chakhar.
- Kurjey Lhakhang: This temple is located above Jambay Lhakhang with three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. The second is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is considered the most holy. The present Queen Mother recently built the third temple. These three temples are surrounded by 108 chhorten wall symbolising each joints in the human body.
- Tamshing Monastery: Located opposite Kurjey Lhakhang was founded by Bhutan’s religious treasure hunter – Terton Pema Lingpa in 1501. Believed to be the reincarnation of Guru Rimpoche who discovered many religious treasures around the country. The mural paintings inside the temple are known to be unrecorded ancient painting. A hike for about an hour would help tourists relish the serene beauty of valley from Kurjey over Chamkhar River to arrive at Tamshing.
- Jakar Dzong: Built in 17th century during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal – 1st Religious and Political King of Bhutan. The fortress is now used as an administrative centre for Bumthang valley.
- Wangdichholing Palace: This palace was built in 1857 on the site of a battle camp of the then Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. It was the first Palace that was not designed as a fortress. His son King Ugyen Wangchuk, chose it as his principal residence.
Overnight at hotel – Bumthang.
DAY 7: BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive to Punakha with many beautiful ridges, rivulets, hillocks along the road and eye catching sites for photography.
On arrival check into the hotel at Punakha.
Overnight at hotel – Bumthang.
DAY 8: PUNAKHA (BAYLANGDRA) (B/L/D)
After a sumptuous breakfast, we visit Baylangdra in Wangdue Dzongkhag to see the enormous legendary cypress tree (Cypresses Cashmeriana). The Sacred Ney of Baylangdra is situated on a cliff – an hour’s drive from Chuzomsa through the ravines of Sha village.
Another one and a half hours walk from the road point takes us to Baylangdra. The legend behind Baylangdra states that Guru Rimpochoe was in Nya-Yab-Ling, a fabulous continent believed to have existed to the north of Jambuvidpa. He saw in his spiritual vision the people were plagued by ignorance and sinful deeds. Provoked by the sympathetic situation and moreover to discover the hidden treasure from Baylangdra, Guru Rinpoche came to Baylangra to heal the people.
Overnight at hotel – Punakha.
DAY 9: PUNAKHA – PARO (B/L/D)
After breakfast, you will be wearing kira and gho (traditional attire) to attend the morning prayer and the Buddhist teaching from Lam Gyalwa Shacha and will be escorted to the Lam Gyalwa Shacha’s place where monks will perform some rituals ( Melom) followed by the teaching from Lama Gyalwa Shacha.
The days visit will include:
Chimi Lhakhang: The temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina and is a 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha. This was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the ‘Divine Madman’ (Drukpa Kuenlay) built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless childless couples and many people from around the world visit this holy site to seek blessings. After lunch we drive back to Paro passing through the idyllic countryside, dotted with villages and – paddy fields, crossing rivers and forests.
After that drive back to Paro.
Overnight at hotel – Paro.
DAY 10: PARO – DAY HIKE (B/L/D)
The day begins with a short drive towards the road point and it is an uphill hike to witness the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) which precariously clings to a cliff at about 800 m / 2,600 ft from the Paro valley. The climb up to the view point will take around three hours (depending on one’s fitness). It is highlighted that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, alighted here upon the back of a tigress, meditated for three months in a cave and assumed the form of Dorje Droloe, the Terrifying Thunderbolt and subjugated the Eight Evil Spirits who hindered the propagation of Buddhism. Thereafter, the Buddhist Dharma was introduced in Paro valley and soon spread to the rest of Bhutan. Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most venerated Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria near Taktshang and then we continue for further site seeing:
- Drukgyal Dzong – Now in ruins, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by the Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into the Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early English visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine.
- Kyichu temple- One of 108 temples built in 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story depicts that a giant lady demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on her entire body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise spiritual plans.
- Farmhouse: An interesting visit to depict how Bhutanese people live. The Farmhouses are very decorative, built and painted in a classical style. The houses are normally three storied; the ground floor is for the cattle, the top floor for drying hay while the family live on the middle floor.
In the evening try traditional hot stone bath that alleviates joint pains and aids in reducing high blood pressure.
Overnight at hotel – Paro
DAY 11: DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
Morning your guide will escort to Airport for your onward flight.